Syracuse Volleyball Splits First Two Games of the Spring Season

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2021 at 10:44 pm by Sports Editor

By Nick Luttrell

CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter

Inconsistency within the Syracuse volleyball program. Sound familiar? That was the biggest issue for Syracuse after the fall season. Only two matches into the spring, it seems nothing has changed. 

On Friday, March 5th, the Orange (5-5, 5-5 Atlantic Coast) lost a heartbreaker in five sets to North Carolina (8-4, 7-3 Atlantic Coast). 

After jumping out to a 10-1 lead and winning the first set 25-14, Syracuse lost the next two (18-25, 21-25) and momentum seemed to be on the Tar Heels side. That was until the Orange roared back winning the fourth set 25-19 to force a fifth set. While the fifth was back and forth, two errors by Syracuse gave UNC two straight points to win 16-14 and take the match 3-2.

After the heartbreaking game, Outside Hitter Yulia Yastrub took note and reflected on the inconsistency that led to her team’s loss.

“There were some ups and downs, we were good in one set – not as good in the next set… we knew we could do better … we know what we have to do now and what we have to focus [on] to be better.”

Yastrub, who finished the night with a career-high 13 kills, has been forced to step up this season and fill the role of Polina Shemanova. Shemanova and fellow teammate Marina Markova (both of whom were starters in the fall) are currently stuck in Russia because of complications with their visas. Despite about 1/3 of Syracuse’s offensive points from the fall season being gone, Head Coach Leonid Yelin knows his team has to move on. 

“It’s not like we lost them in the last couple days… we didn’t have them since we [started] practicing. As much as we would love to have [them], like everyone else on the team, we just have to move forward and prepare for the season.”

While moving on may have been a hard thing to do, the Orange seemed to settle down a little more two days later against Clemson. 

Similar to Friday, Syracuse jumped out to an early lead and won the first set, 25-20, then continued their dominance in the second winning 25-21. However, the script was flipped in the next two sets as the Tigers clawed back winning 25-20 and 25-17 to even the series. Yet again, the Orange found themselves going to the fifth set. Sunday’s results were a little different as Syracuse won a tight fifth set, 16-14, to walk away with a 3-2 win. 

Freshman Naomi Franco and Sophomore Victoria Lokhmanchuk both had career highs in multiple categories including combining for 32 kills. The result was exciting for Syracuse, but Yelin knew his team was worn out after playing 10 matches in less than 48 hours.

“Everyone, getting first tired, it’s mentally, not physically… It’s not like your muscles are tired (they are) but you don’t feel that, you feel you’re [mentally] exhausted…. It’s our second match of this part of this season, I feel today like we already played six matches.”

Indeed, the Orange played A LOT of volleyball in their first two games but now have some much-needed rest before their next match.

This weekend Syracuse travels down to Coral Gables to play back-to-back days against Miami (6-4, 6-4 Atlantic Coast) and Virginia (2-10, 0-10). You can watch those games on ACCNX or follow @nickluttie for live updates. | @nickluttie